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Governor won’t urge change to death penalty law

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday he will not propose either a new method of capital punishment or abolishing the death penalty to the Nevada Legislature when it convenes in February.

Executions by lethal injection cannot proceed in Nevada because the Department of Corrections cannot obtain the drugs needed to carry them out. There are 81 inmates on death row in Nevada but no executions are imminent.

Sandoval said he supports capital punishment and won’t recommend that the Legislature repeal the death penalty or change the state’s method of execution to the firing squad or some other option.

Asked if there is now a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in Nevada, Sandoval said, “That is one thing that somebody could say. It’s a practical issue.

“There are no other options and right now, you are right, the drugs are not available and nobody has responded to that.”

Sandoval said a lawmaker could propose to abolish capital punishment but that he won’t be doing so.

“I am not considering that at this time,” he said.

Nevada prison officials said last week the state will have to explore its options to carry out executions after it received no bids from pharmaceutical companies to supply drugs for lethal injections.

The state issued 247 requests for proposals on Sept. 2 after its stockpile of at least one drug used in executions expired. Not one response was received.

Nevada has used the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone to administer a lethal injection. Both are manufactured by Pfizer.

“Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve,” the company said in a statement issued earlier this year. “Consistent with these values, Pfizer strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment.”

The Nevada Legislature in the 2015 session approved spending $858,000 to build a new execution chamber at Ely State Prison, to replace the one in the now-closed Nevada State Prison in Carson City.

Officials have said that project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1 and the space will be used for storage and as an attorney-inmate meeting area if no executions are scheduled to go forward.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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